The Nature of the Populist Threat
Populism as an interlude
Populism as the new normal
Populism as deconsolidation
- ^ Parties are classified as populist on the basis of the Trans-Regional University of Melbourne Populism Dataset. The authors of the Melbourne data considered different party characteristics that are generally accepted as indicators of populist politics in the academic literature. For example, they recorded whether a party opposes the political class, financial institutions, immigrants, or ethnic minorities. They also scored the relative dependency of each party on the personality of its leaders (rather than, for example, its political programme or an entrenched constituency with special interests), and assessed whether its actions violated liberal democratic norms. On the basis of these indicators, confidence scores were assigned to each party that range from 1 (little evidence of populist appeal) to 5 (ideal-typical populist). We use the Melbourne tagging with discretion, e.g. adding Moldova and Cyprus (which are missing from the Melbourne dataset) and re-classifying the Progress Party in Norway and Politics Can Be Different in Hungary as populist on the basis of prevailing opinions among political scientists. Electoral results are drawn from national voting datasets of the respective countries studied, as well as from the Parliaments and Governments Database (ParlGov). Additional details like parties’ founding dates are drawn from publicly available sources, such as each party’s website.
- ^ Kaltwasser, Cristóbal Rovira. 2014. “The Responses of Populism to Dahl’s Democratic Dilemmas.” Political Studies 62 (3): 470–487.
- ^ For a discussion of this first claim, see: Manent, Pierre. 2017. “Populist Demagogy and the Fanaticism of the Center.” American Affairs, 1–16. Also see: Jansen, Robert S. 2011. “Populist Mobilization: A New Theoretical Approach to Populism.” Sociological Theory 29 (2): 75–96.
- ^ This definition parallels the one used in the 2016 report “The State of Populism in the European Union” by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS). Data from the FEPS report, combined with a dataset on populist parties assembled by Roberto Foa at the University of Melbourne, forms the empirical basis for the accompanying graphics.
- ^ For a discussion of the link between contemporary populism and Christianity, see: Brubaker, Rogers. 2017. “Between Nationalism and Civilizationism: The European Populist Moment in Comparative Perspective.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 40 (8). Taylor & Francis: 1191–1226.
- ^ We rely on the EuroVoc geo-scheme to group countries with populist parties into four European regions: North (Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), South (Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Malta), East (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Ukraine), West (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland, Great Britain). The EuroVoc scheme differs from the United Nations regional classification system in two significant ways: First, it assigns Great Britain and Ireland to Western Europe rather than Northern Europe. Second, all Balkan countries except Greece are classified as a part of Eastern rather than Southern Europe. Top-line trends described in this report are robust to such marginal changes in regional classification.
- ^ The latter three are Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro. During the most recent round of national elections, the populist vote share in all three countries exceeded 20%.
- ^ Vetëvendosje merged with the Socialist Party of Kosovo in 2013, and now advocates against foreign involvement in domestic and regional affairs and against the privatisation of public entities. In Slovakia, Direction – Social Democracy is pursuing similar campaigns against privatisation and has partnered with far-right populists in recent government coalitions.
- ^ In some Eastern European countries, the competition between different populist parties is now so strong that formerly far-right parties are moving towards the centre-right in an attempt to distinguish themselves in an increasingly crowded field. Hungary’s Jobbik party, which has long practiced an extreme form of right-wing nationalism that included openly anti-semitic appeals, has recently embraced a more moderate stance, apologising for past statements of its leaders, and making cautious overtures to the Jewish community. Jobbik leader Gabor Vona has defended this pivot as part of the natural evolution of a party that has outgrown its “teenage years.” But there may also be more prosaic reasons for Jobbik’s shift: as the governing Fidesz party has gradually drifted into a more extreme direction under Prime Minister Orbán, Jobbik has found itself squeezed from the right.
- ^ Excluded are countries without any populist parties: Monaco, Liechtenstein, and Andorra.
- ^ The populist True Finns split into two competing fractions in June 2017 after the party decided to elect anti-immigration hardliner Jussi Halla-aho as its new leader. The more moderate New Alternative (which united 21 of the original 38 True Finns parliamentarians) has remained in the governing coalition.
- ^ Interestingly, the comparative weakness of left populism appears to be, in part, a function of the small number of left populist parties. The total number of votes for right populist parties is significantly higher in most countries than the number of votes for left populist parties, but it is also split between a much larger number of parties. In the most recent electoral cycle, 46 right populist parties stood for election across Europe, but only 11 left populist parties. On a per-party basis, the average left populist party performs 1% better than the average right populist party. (In line with much of the academic literature, we exclude most communist and socialist parties that are defined by ideology rather than by populist appeals to the people. This mirrors and balances our simultaneous exclusion of ideologically driven parties of the far-right fringe.)
- ^ We classify seven parties as neither left nor right: The Italian Five Star Movement, Human Shield in Croatia, the Pirate Party in Iceland, Path of Courage in Lithuania, the Party of Socialists in Moldova, Self-Defense of the Republic in Poland, and Citizens in Spain. Most of these parties combine left populist campaigns against privatisation and financial elites with right populist denunciations of immigrants, minorities, and liberal rights.
- ^ One reason for this overlap is a growing similarity in constituencies. Voters of left and right populist parties tend to be more skeptical of political and civic institutions than supporters of mainstream parties, according to recent data from the European Values Study. Some of the traditional constituencies of the Left have also begun to shift towards the far Right in the wake of mass migration. In Germany, for example, the AfD has now replaced Die Linke as the party with the lowest median voter income, and has supplanted the social democratic SPD as the party with the highest proportion of working-class voters. These macro-political realignments have weakened the class-based voting patterns that long dominated multi-party democracies especially in Western Europe, and have fueled the salience of identity and culture as predictors of voting behavior.
- ^ At the European level, Hungary’s government is now using its voting power to block European sanctions in response to the Polish judicial reform, which must be passed unanimously. Thus, populists with a firm hold on power are not just able to shape the development of democracy domestically, but can also facilitate illiberal reforms abroad and insulate other populists against international backlash.
- ^ For example, see: https://www.wahlrecht.de/umfragen/allensbach.htm